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Concrete NZ Warns Against Taking Shortcuts With Precast Concrete Panel Lifting Anchors

Those who carry out work with precast concrete panels are being warned to ensure they meet industry standards following a serious near-miss incident.

In December 2019, a precast concrete panel which weighed 20 tonnes was being lifted at an Auckland construction site when the cast-in lifting anchor failed and the panel fell. While no one was harmed the risk of serious injury was high.

Following the incident WorkSafe carried out testing which confirmed the failed lifting anchor was made from a brittle material and therefore should not have been used. The lifting anchors had been self-imported by the manufacturer.

WorkSafe’s Principal Engineer, Stuart Wright said WorkSafe engaged with the manufacturer of the precast panels to determine if any other panels existed with the same brittle lifting anchor.

“WorkSafe is satisfied all panels containing anchors from the same batch as the failed anchor have already been erected or positioned without further incident. The manufacturer of the precast panels has voluntarily surrendered to WorkSafe, all of the unused lifting anchors that were supplied in the same batch.”

Concrete New Zealand (NZ) Precast Sector Group President Justin Bragg said the design and installation of lifting anchors should only be carried out by those with experience.

“It is critical that the material of the installed anchors meet the requirements of specified industry Standards. Anchors and the lifting clutches should both be made of an appropriate ductile material to avoid brittle failure.”

Justin is confident that Concrete NZ Precast Sector Group members are well aware of the risks and source lifting anchors from reputable suppliers, but is reminding non-members of the risks around purchasing a non-compliant product.

“The risks of this are potentially increased when sourcing offshore products where the quality and testing regimes may not meet the specified requirements. We are reminding everyone to keep in mind that when self-importing products additional testing may be required to ensure the product conforms to New Zealand requirements.”

Guidance on the roles and responsibilities for the safe handling, transportation and erection of precast concrete can be found in the WorkSafe document Safe work with precast concrete: Handling, transportation and erection of precast concrete elements.

WorkSafe NZ (2018). Safe work with precast concrete: Handling, transportation and erection of precast concrete elements - https://worksafe.govt.nz/dmsdocument/4161-safe-work-with-precast-concrete

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